Former Punjab Minister Manpreet Singh Badal Joins BJP; Congress Reacts  

New Delhi/Chandigarh: Former Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal joined the BJP Wednesday and slammed the Congress, which he quit before starting his new political innings, for factionalism.

The Congress took a swipe at the former Punjab finance minister, saying “clouds (badal) over the Punjab Congress have cleared”.

The five-time MLA lauded the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership, saying India has emerged strong, including diplomatically and economically, under their nearly nine-year rule.

Voicing concern over the state of affairs in Punjab, he said the state is “slipping” and the BJP is the only party which can meet the challenges facing it.

On his decision to quit the Congress, he said how can one operate in a party which is at “war with itself”. “Not only in Punjab but in many states, the party is full of factions,” Badal said.

In his resignation letter to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Badal claimed that far from being acknowledged or appreciated for his efforts to garner funds for the state exchequer, he was “vilified” in the Punjab Congress “for failing to display what can only be described as fiscal recklessness”.

Union minister Piyush Goyal, who was present during his joining ceremony at the BJP headquarters here, was effusive in his praise of Badal.

Badal is erudite, simple and experienced and was also guided by larger national interest during the GST council meeting when he represented Punjab as its finance minister, Goyal said.

It is a golden day and his joining the BJP will further strengthen its bond with Sikhs, the senior BJP leader said.

In the resignation letter, which he also posted on Twitter, Badal said that he was “disillusioned” with the Congress.

“I devoted every ounce of energy to every office I have had the honour of holding, both in the party and the government. I thank you for having provided me with these opportunities and for the kindness and courtesy you have shown me in the past,” he said in the letter addressing Rahul Gandhi.

“Regretfully, given the prevailing culture within the party and the defiant desire in the present course, I no longer wish to be a part of the Indian National Congress,” he said.

Badal, who served as the finance minister in the previous Congress government, said, “Seven years ago, I merged the People’s Party of Punjab with your party. I did so with immense hope and an expectation of being integrated into an organisation with a rich history that would allow me to serve both the people of Punjab and its interests to the best of my ability.” “Initial enthusiasm gradually gave way to disappointing disillusionment,” he added.

Sunil Kumar Dhangadamajhi

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